Unlocking deeper emotional intimacy with your husband

I hear many wives mourn the fact that their husbands seem to be emotionally absent in their marriage.  These women crave emotional intimacy and connection, but it’s a missing element in their marriage. What could be the problem?

It could be many things, but there is a common reason for a man’s reluctance to become emotionally intimate.  If a man has attempted to share his feelings, thoughts, or ideas with his wife in the past, and has been ridiculed, criticized, corrected or laughed at, he will likely shut her out emotionally…perhaps for years!

A wife must become a safe place for her husband to share his heart.  The Bible gives a key instruction to wives on this topic in Ephesians 5:33.  The passage says “the wife must respect her husband“.  Ladies, we must show respect to our husbands when they share their hopes, dreams, ideas, thoughts, and concerns.  We don’t have to endorse every idea or plan, but we do need to actually listen attentively, ask gentle questions, avoid criticism and correction, and have a respectful attitude.  Try it, and do this for several months in a row.  I bet you will begin to see a difference in your relationship with your husband.  If you can faithfully do this week after week, you will likely begin enjoying emotional intimacy!

If you’re concerned about your husband’s behavior…

Sometimes, we will notice a trend in our husband’s behavior or reactions that are concerning.  He might not be engaged in something hugely sinful, but you are concerned about the harsh way he’s interacting with the kids or the resentment that he holds toward his boss, etc.  In other words, you fear that if he continues down that path, significant damage will be the result.  Hmmm.  What’s a wife to do in those moments where she senses her husband is headed the wrong way?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but let me share two things that have been effective in my own relationship.  1)  Pray earnestly that God will convict your husband through his Holy Spirit so that your husband will see that he needs to make some changes.  Jesus makes it clear that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict people when they are off track.  Jesus says of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8 “when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”

2) If you feel like God is nudging you to talk to your husband about your observations, quietly come to your husband, take a humble posture by perhaps kneeling beside him while he’s sitting, and gently tell him of your concerns. Take this opportunity to speak words of life to him.  Tell him about the good qualities you see in him.  Remind him that God is transforming him into a man who has Christ’s character, which is “gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).  Tell him you’re proud of him for seeking to become more like Christ and for allowing God to mold and shape him.

God wants you to take care of your heart

I often talk and write about how wives were created to be their husband’s helper, and while that’s true, I feel it’s necessary to make a clarification.  Yes, we should help our husbands by showing them respect, allowing them to lead the family, and assisting them as they seek to follow God’s promptings in their life.  However, that doesn’t mean a wife should give up her own individual identity in the process.

Submitting to your husband’s leadership does not mean that you become a doormat which has no value.  Helping your husband does not mean you sacrifice doing the things that bring you great joy.  Respecting your husband doesn’t mean he’s always right and you’re always wrong.  If you go too far in that direction, you will become an empty shell.  It’s as if your heart doesn’t matter.   God doesn’t intend that for you.  In fact, He says in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”

Spend some time in prayer with God and ask Him to reveal if there are any areas of your life where you have lost your true identity.  Have you stopped doing some things that bring you fully alive?  Is it time to sit down with your husband and talk about how you can both live in a way that brings joy and fulfillment?

Overcoming fears regarding confrontation

I have seen so many women wither and die emotionally in their marriages because their husband is engaged in disrespectful or sinful behavior and the wife gives up too easily in terms of confrontation.  (I should know because I was one of those women in my first marriage!)  So why would a wife give up?  I believe it boils down to one main fear.

The wife fears that if she continues to confront the issue, or heaven forbid, draw a serious boundary, her husband may decide to leave her…and in her mind, she will lose what’s supposed to make her happy and secure.  But this is faulty thinking!  Your husband is not a reliable source of happiness.  God is the only one we can depend on for unconditional love, compassion, and security.  If your husband were to leave after you draw a line in the sand, I believe God is big enough to take care of you financially.  I know He is.  Do you trust Him?  Do you believe what He says in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”?

Trust in the One who will never leave your side.  Trust in the One who can provide innovative ways to take care of your financial needs.  Trust in the One who can bring supportive people into your life to stand by you as you draw boundaries.  That One is Jesus.

Are you considering divorce?

Having a rough time in your marriage?  Do you wish you’d never married your husband?  Our society makes it very easy to throw in the towel and divorce.  Divorce might seem very tempting, but let me tell you from personal experience; it’s really hard on your children.  Actually, it’s devastating for them.  Yes, God can heal them over time, but your children will always carry a deep emotional scar.  Whoever started the rumor that kids can bounce back from divorce was lying!

I’m not saying that a woman should never divorce her husband.  The Bible certainly gives a clear allowance for divorce in Matthew 19:9 where Jesus says “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”  Jesus clearly states that when a spouse has cheated on you sexually, divorce is permissible.  After many years of studying the Bible, I also believe God permits a woman to divorce her husband when he grossly sins against his wife through continuing physical or emotional abuse.  After all, God instructs us in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life“.  After years of severe emotional or physical abuse, a woman can become a mere shell of a human being.  I don’t believe that is God’s will for anyone.  Throughout the Bible, we see that God is more concerned with mercy than merely following rules.

All this being said, please do everything you can to fight for your marriage.  Don’t give up easily.  Don’t let bitterness grow.  Work to resolve issues before your heart grows so cold that you don’t feel like working to save your marriage. You may possibly need to separate from your husband in order to bring his attention to the seriousness of the problem, but your goal should be reconciliation and restoration of your marriage. Find a good counselor.  Get a mentor couple.  Read the Bible.  Pray continually.  Don’t give up on your marriage too easily.  If for no other reason, fight for your marriage on behalf of your children.

Clearly communicating expectations!

Have you and your husband been butting heads lately?  Can you sense resentment against him growing in your heart?  Does he seem frustrated with you?  Well, the good news is that you’re not alone.  This is pretty common in marriage.  The bad news is that if you don’t do something about this, it will likely ruin your marriage!

As my husband and I have mentored couples, we’ve found a little tool to be really helpful.  We ask the husband and wife to sit down over a series of “dates” and discuss each other’s expectations in all sorts of areas; everything from the balance of responsibilities for chores to what Christmas celebrations should be like.   We all hold subconscious expectations in these areas but we rarely intentionally reveal those expectations to our spouse.  Then we get frustrated and annoyed that they don’t meet our undisclosed expectations!

How about if you bless your spouse by initiating a series of dates to honestly discuss expectations.  Proverbs 24:26 says “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips”.   By each of you being honest and open about your desires and hopes, you will grow more intimate and truly begin to understand each other.  Visit the “free resources” tab on our website (www.squadronofsisters.com) to print out a list of topics for your husband and you to discuss.

Help for the woman who feels burdened or oppressed

Are you having one of those weeks or months?  Has your husband broken your heart?  Are you an emotional wreck over a situation with one of your children?  Don’t try to carry that burden alone!  It’s too heavy.

Even though it would be so helpful to reach out to some godly female friends, many of us tend to isolate during really hard times instead.  Unfortunately, that only makes it easier for Satan to beat you down.  With no other voices speaking hope into your life, he has free realm to whisper one lie right after another.

Jesus describes Satan this way in John 8:44: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  The lies may sound like this:  No one really loves you.  Your life sucks and there’s no hope.  You should have never married your husband.  God doesn’t really care about you. You’re a failure as a mom compared to all the other moms. There is no way in the world to recover from your financial mess.  God could never change your husband’s heart.  Blah, blah, blah.

One of the keys to drowning out the voice of the enemy is to listen to other voices!  Spend time reading God’s Word.  Also, spend time with godly women who can speak truth, wisdom, and hope into your life.  If you don’t know any women like that, then it’s time to start building new friendships.  I know you might be scared to tell another woman what’s really going on in your marriage and family.  However, you might be surprised to find that other women will start opening up to you and sharing their own challenges as you begin sharing yours. Just keep in mind that the point is to encourage each other and pray for each other…not to trash talk your husbands!